4 things to know about the Czech Republic’s presidential election

European Union

Who is contesting? Who will win? How is the president elected?

The second round of the Czech Republic’s Presidential Election is taking place on the 26th and 27th January. Here are four things you need to know.

1. What happened in Round One?

In the Czech Republic, like in many other democracies in Europe and the wider world, presidential elections take place in two stages. If in the first round a candidate wins over 50% of the vote, they become president and a second round does not take place. If however, none of the candidates win more than 50% of the vote in Round One, all but the top two candidates are eliminated and subsequently face each other in Round Two.

The first round took place 12th – 13th January and was contested by nine candidates, and was won by the SPO’s Milos Zeman followed by independent candidate Jiri Drahos.

2. Who is Milos Zeman?

Zeman is the candidate for the SPO, which are a centre-left party in the Czech Republic. He has been president since 2013 and has also previously served as his country’s prime minister. He won almost 40% of the vote in the first round. The Washington Post has compared him to Donald Trump.

3. Who is Jiří Drahoš?

This independent candidate, backed by the country’s Christian and Democratic Union party, is a chemist who was President of the Czech Academy of Sciences for eight years. According to the Guardian, his opponent Zeman has been friendly with Russia while Drahoš is widely seen as a pro-West candidate.

 

4. Who will win?

Zeman won the first round with almost 40% of the vote compared to his main opponent’s 27%, suggesting that Zeman is the favourite to lead again. However, opinion polls suggest a mixed picture. The most recent STEM/MARK poll gives the political newcomer Drahoš a six-point lead, beating Zeman 47% - 43%. The previous two polls gave Zeman a lead. To many commentators, this weekend's vote is too close to call.